Joachim Raff’s String Quartets
Joachim Raff’s contemporaries valued him as an expert in the history of music and art and as a composer who wove together three-part counterpoint with ease and knew how to produce richly colored instrumentations. Raff was born in Lachen by Lake Zurich in 1822 and died as the director of the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt in 1882. Following our releases of some of Raff’s symphonies and his piano trios, we at cpo are now turning to his String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 8. After his early second quartet of 1857 some ten years passed before Raff again turned to composition for quartet ensemble. During the intervening years he had established himself in Wiesbaden, and his productivity enabled him to make a name for himself as a multifaceted composer of symphonies, piano and chamber music, and vocal works of all kinds. In his »middle quartets« the classicistic control of his music from those years makes itself manifest. Instead of penning his interpretive markings in German, he wrote them in the traditional Italian manner. Moreover, in each of the first movements repeat signs are found for the exposition without this being motivated by an increased degree of difficulty. And in comparison to his first two quartets, the number of chromatic part shifts is considerably reduced. According to Raff’s daughter, he was particularly proud of the Suite in Canon Form, thus the subtitle of the eighth quartet. Here he was able once again to display his whole palette of compositional technical refinements in the guise of old dance forms and to indulge in his conviction that old ideas could supply the flint for new sparks.